Cantonment Board confines itself to serving notices

The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) has been in the news of late for cracking down against unauthorised constructions in the old grant bungalows converted into commercial halls but it has another onerous task in seeking to control illegal constructions.

Though the SCB authorities had demolished a few structures in Trimulghery, Bhavana Colony and other areas, such special drives has not been a regular exercise thanks to the lack of infrastructure to tackle them besides the legal tangles.

As per cantonment rules, only ground plus two-floor structures are permitted but there are many unauthorised constructions and buildings constructed in violation of the sanctioned plans with even residential apartments coming up in several colonies.

In 2011, authorities did a study and had identified over 1,200 structures that were constructed after 2005 as ‘unauthorised’ for deviations made in the sanctioned plan.

Lacking the wherewithal to act against such violators, the SCB has been confined to serving notices with few demolitions done. While, a few obtained stay orders, many cases are still under trials in court, officials said.

The CBI too had conducted raids quite a few times at the Board office and at few elected board members residencies on this issue not only exposing the irregularities in the board but also lack of a building regulatory mechanism. “Every time there is a raid, an enquiry is ordered and things tend to move at their own pace. An enquiry against four engineering officials is still pending,” points out a board official. Although the SCB is headed by a senior army official and half of the 16 members who are senior government or military officials, violations were not halted.

However, builders blame the ‘impractical building rules’ for the violations.

“Cantonment officials include stilt and cellar space in the floor space index further reducing the built up space leading to violations,” alleges a member of the Secunderabad Cantonment Builders Association.

A proposal for amending the existing building bye laws in tune with the existing rules in the municipal neighbourhood and introduction of a building regularisation scheme has been pending with the higher officials at Pune. Plans for restructuring the Board and introducing an exclusive Town Planning section have been confined to paper, he points out.

Annually, SCB issues more than 200 permissions for fresh constructions and of late, it sought the help of AP Central Power Distribution Company Ltd not to sanction connections to new constructions unless it was constructed as per the sanctioned plan. It is yet to fructify so is the plea not to register properties unless it is built as per sanctioned plan to the Department of Stamps and Registrations, officials say.

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